Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 22 - Candied Cinnamon Pecans

This recipe comes from GRIT Magazine, but it's very similar to others that I've used.  These are like the yummy candied almonds, cashews or pecans that you can get at the Renaissance Festival and the fair.  They're a favorite around here!

Candied Cinnamon Pecans Recipe

By Jean Teller

• 1 tablespoon butter
• 3 cups pecan halves
• 1/2 cup sugar, divided
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1. In large, nonstick skillet, melt butter. Stir in pecans and all but 1 tablespoon sugar. Cook until sugar melts, about 5 to 10 minutes, tossing pecans often so they brown but don’t burn. Remove from heat.
2. In small bowl, mix together remaining sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add to skillet and toss to coat pecans.
3. Spread mixture on wax paper and let cool for about 20 minutes, then break up clumps and store in resealable plastic bag.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 21 - Candy

We're nearing the end of this Advent Calendar, so I thought I'd post a few of the candy recipes that I tend to make for Christmas giving.


1 cup butter
1 lb brown sugar (2 1/4 cups)
1 cup light corn syrup
dash of salt
1 15-oz. can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Butter a 9x9 square baking pan.  Melt butter in a 3 qt saucepan or dutch oven.  Add sugar and salt; stir thoroughly.  Stir in corn syrup, mix well.  Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir over medium heat to firm ball stage (245 degrees on a candy thermometer,) about 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Pour into pan, cool and cut into squares.

Chocolate Caramels - add two 1 oz. squares of unsweetened baking chocolate with the milk.
You can also add chopped nuts at the end, if desired.

Wrap individual caramels in squares of waxed paper or dip them in chocolate.

Chocolate Covered Caramels - Place 1 - 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir with spoon.  Microwave in 15 second intervals, if needed, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted.   Drop caramels into melted chocolate and lift out with a fork.  Place on waxed or parchment paper, or a Silpat, to cool and harden.  Store in airtight container.



2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Place egg whites in bowl of mixer and set aside.  Place sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Then cook without stirring to 252 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage?)  Pour syrup in a very fine line over egg whites, beating constantly.  Do not scrape the bottom of the pan.  Continue beating until mixture is dry and holds its shape.  Beat in vanilla and nuts by hand.  Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed or parchment paper.  Makes about 1 1/2 lbs.


Rocky Road Candy 

This is by far the easiest candy I've ever made, but people request it every year and just love it.

2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup Chunky Peanut Butter (I choose Jif. LOL)
3 Tbsp butter (can leave out, but it makes it creamier and at this point, saving calories is a moot point)
1 pkg. mini marshmallows

Butter a 9x9 square cake pan.  Melt peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips in a saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring often.  A double boiler works well, too.  When melted, remove from heat and  stir in mini marshmallows until you can't stir anymore.  It generally takes between half and 3/4 of a package.  Spread into the buttered pan and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into squares.  Keep refrigerated if it lasts longer than 30 minutes. :)


Butter Mints

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
7 cups sifted confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
food coloring
peppermint flavoring

Cream butter and salt together until smooth.  Blend in milk.  Add confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time until it's no longer sticky to the touch.  Knead in your choice of food coloring and peppermint flavoring.  Shape into small balls less than 1 inch in diameter.  Press down onto waxed or parchment paper and press a fork onto the top to make a design.  Mints will dry and stick slightly into place.  Can sand them with granulated sugar if desired.  Keep the rest of the dough covered while not working with it.


Easy Uncooked Fondant

This is what is in the filling of Cadbury Easter Eggs, so it can be colored and then dipped in chocolate to make them yourself.  (Take a small piece of yellow, rolled into a ball, then wrap with an oval of white.  Dip in chocolate.) It's also what's wrapped around maraschino cherries, then dipped in chocolate to make chocolate covered cherries.  As it sits, the fondant melts to make the gooey syrup surrounding the cherries.  I've colored it, flavored it with all kinds of flavors, shaped it many different ways and dipped it in dark, milk or white chocolate to make all kinds of chocolates.  It looks impressive but is incredibly easy to make.

1/3 cup white Karo syrup
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla or other extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb. box powdered sugar

Mix first four ingredients together, then gradually add powdered sugar.  Fondant will be stiff and the sugar may take a while to work in, but do not add more liquid.  After mixing thoroughly, divide fondant into pieces, according to the number of flavors or colors desired.  Flavor according to taste.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Take out of refrigerator and work fondant into shapes for dipping as desired.

Melt 1 1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips in microwave or in double boiler until melted.  Dip candies in melted chocolate and set onto waxed or parchment paper, or on a silpat, to harden.
Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 20 - Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

It's well-past time to start the desserts for this advent calendar, so today in a texting session with my mom and siblings, a funny memory came up about the Hot Fudge Pudding Cake recipe.   Sandy asked me if I had the recipe, so I'll start with this one.

When I was a teenager, I would sometimes drive over to see my grandparents in the evening.  Grandma would go into the kitchen and whip up one of these cakes, or Bread Pudding or some other dessert for me, just on the spur of the moment.  Of course, that meant I needed to stay long enough for it to bake, but that was how she showed that she loved us.  Cooking = Love in our family, which is why I'm overweight, I would imagine!  But now, I do the same thing for my family and friends - if I cook for you, it just means I love you.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake 

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's baking cocoa, divided
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups hot water

Whipped topping or ice cream to serve with it.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together 3/4 cup gran. sugar, flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Stir in milk, butter and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Pour batter into an ungreased 9-inch square baking pan.  (If you're going to cook it in the microwave, which I don't recommend, but it works - use a 1 quart casserole dish.)  Stir together remaining 1/2 cup gran. sugar, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa.  Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter.  Pour hot water over top.  DO NOT STIR. 

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the center of the cake part is almost set.  Let stand for 15 minutes; spoon into dessert dishes, spooning sauce from the bottom to pour over the top.  Garnish with whipped topping or ice cream.

Serves 6 to 8 normal person-sized servings.  :)

To cook in the microwave, it will take about 10 to 12 minutes on high.  If your microwave doesn't have a turn-table thingy, turn it 1/4 turn half way through. Start checking it at 8 minutes to see if the cake portion is baked.  As with any baked good in a microwave, the texture is still spongy and doesn't crisp on top, but it still tastes awesome.

Oh, and the funny memory about this?  I got this recipe from my sister Linda many, many years ago when microwaves were just starting to be used very often.  The recipe stated "line the oven with paper towels."  I am fairly certain that Linda lined her normal oven with paper towels when she baked it, not using a microwave.  It might have just been that we'd laughed about "what if...", though.  We do that a lot.  :)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 19 - Starbuck's Lemon Loaf, copycat

If you ever see me in a Starbucks, you can pretty much count on the fact that I'm getting either Hot Chocolate or a slice of their Lemon Poundcake.  That stuff is really good!!  So, when I found a copycat recipe of their Lemon Loaf, you know I had to try it.  It's pretty close.

Starbucks Lemon loaf.

This is a Top Secret recipe version of Starbucks Lemon loaf.
Share to save to your timeline so that you can make it later
Starbucks Lemon Loaf
1 1/2 cup(s) FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon(s) BAKING SODA
1/2 teaspoon(s) BAKING POWDER
1/2 teaspoon(s) SALT
1 cup(s) SUGAR
2 tablespoon(s) BUTTER; Softened.
1 teaspoon(s) VANILLA
1 teaspoon(s) LEMON EXTRACT
1/3 cup(s) LEMON JUICE
1/2 cup(s) OIL (recommend coconut oil)
1 cup(s) POWDERED SUGAR; Plus 1 Tablespoon.
2 tablespoon(s) WHOLE MILK; I Used 2%.
1/2 teaspoon(s) LEMON EXTRACT

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Use a mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Pour wet ingredient into the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.
Add oil and mix well.
Pour batter into a well greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into center of the cake comes out clean.
Make the lemon icing by combining all the icing ingredients in a small bowl with an electric mixer on low speed.
When the loaf is cool, remove it from pan and frost the top with the icing.

Let the icing set up before slicing.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 18 - Chicken Bryan from Carrabba's

I'm not really sure where I found this recipe, but going to Carrabba's generally means that either Bob or I - and sometimes both of us - will order either Chicken Bryan or Filet Bryan.  The combination of flavors is so scrumptious!!  It's a grilled chicken breast or filet mignon topped with goat cheese, a beurre blanc sauce and sun dried tomatoes.  That combination just makes my mouth happy!

Carrabba’s Italian Grill Chicken Bryan
(copycat recipe but I don’t know where it came from)

For the Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce:
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp finely chopped yellow onion
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ cups finely sliced sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp white pepper

Place butter, garlic and onion in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté until garlic and onion are tender and transparent.  Add white wine and lemon juice.  Increase heat to medium high and simmer to reduce by half.

Reduce heat to low.  Add cold butter one piece at a time.  Add sun-dried tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and stir to blend ingredients.  Set aside.

For the chicken:
6 large chicken breasts
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ black pepper
8 oz. goat cheese, softened to room temperature

In a charcoal grill (I’ve also used a stove top, but grilling is best),  reduce charcoal briquettes to white-hot coals. 

Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill over hot coals 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Divide goat cheese evenly between chicken breasts, placing some on each breast for the last two minutes of cooking.

Place cooked chicken on serving platter or individual plates and spoon Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over the chicken.

Serves 6

From Chef Chad in Houston, TX.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 17 - Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Today I spent most of the day with my friend, Marlene Paisley.  She just had a new baby, Zoe, a couple of days ago.  Zoe is very, very tiny at only 3 lbs., and was precious to see.  Marlene and I became friends mostly over Facebook, I guess, but we're both Realtors and both like food.  One day, she brought me a box of cookies for a Christmas present and I gave her these Thumbprint cookies in exchange.  

I am skipping ahead to a dessert, but this is the cookie that cemented our friendship.  It was good to spend the day with you, Marlene!  Congratulations on your precious and tiny baby. 

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
from Christmas Cookies by Oxmoor House

2 cups butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar 
2 tsp. almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
sesame seeds (I never put these on) 
raspberry preserves

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add almond extract, flour and salt; mix well.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. 

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sesame seeds.  Place two inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets (I use parchment paper).  Flatte cookies slightly and indent centers with thumb; fill centers with raspberry jam.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  Store in airtight containers.

Makes about 5 dozen.  

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 16 - Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Today is Eric's birthday and we've already covered many of his favorites, like Twice Baked Potatoes and Chimichangas, so I thought I would put in Chicken and Broccoli Casserole.  It used to be one of his favorites, but I don't know anymore.  I still like it, though, and we make it a couple of different ways.  Here's the first one:

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

1 - 2 lbs. of chicken breast, cut up.
        (The original recipe called for 2 whole chicken breasts to be boiled in water seasoned with garlic salt until tender, about 1 hour.  Skin, bone, and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Now I use boneless chicken breasts that cook in about 15-20 minutes.  You could also use rotisserie chicken just as easily.)
1 large bunch of broccoli, cleaned and cut into spears.
        (Cook in salted water until crisp tender, do not overcook.)
1 cup of grated Cheddar/Jack cheese


1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 cup broth from chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

Place broccoli in bottom of 9x13 pan.  Top with chopped chicken.  Top with sauce, covering all of the chicken and broccoli.  Then top with cheese.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Version 2:
Everything is the same except that you start at the bottom with 2-3 cups of cooked rice.

Version 3:
Mix 3 cups of cooked rice with a small jar of Cheez-Whiz.  Put that in the bottom of the 9x13 pan, then top with everything else.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This Crazy Trip Rides Again?

Well, two posts in one day, but they're for different things, so hopefully it won't annoy too many people.  :)

I'm in the beginning stages of planning This Crazy Trip for Summer of 2016.  Today I got an email inviting me to join the American Outdoor Sweepstakes and try to win $50,000.  That would be a great way to do my around-the-states trip for free!!  

When I finished with the sweepstakes entry, I saw a link for 50 Travel Adventures with a new place to see in every state.  There are several places in there that I haven't put on my list, so I was excited to read it. 

Here's the link if you'd like to check out the places to visit in each state. 

And if you'd like to enter the sweepstakes, too, here's that link. 


Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 15 - Sausage Rolls

At the request of Bob's cousin, David Stull, here is what I know about Sausage Rolls, another  yummy British appetizer.  I'm fairly certain that our older sons all existed on these for a few years.

First: British sausage is not the same as American sausage.  It's spiced differently and the texture is a much finer grind.  That being said, since Americans are used to American sausage, they're going to think these are wonderful with American sausage.  If you know of a good British market near you, definitely try to get British-style sausage.

On to the recipe:

The first recipe that I have is ridiculously simple.

Sausage Rolls

1 lb. bulk sausage
1 pkg. puff pastry sheets, thawed
dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lay the puff pastry sheet out onto a lightly floured surface.  If it is already divided into 10 sections, go ahead and separate them.  If not, cut it evenly down the center, lengthwise, then into 5 sections each to get 10 squares.  Spread dijon mustard lightly on each piece of pastry.  Take a golf ball sized piece of sausage and roll it into a log shape, about the same size as the width of the pastry square.  Lay it onto the pastry and roll it up, pressing lightly at the seam to seal the pastry.  Set onto a baking sheet. Brush each roll with the beaten egg. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes - start checking it around 12 minutes - until pastry is puffed and golden and sausage is cooked through.

The second recipe is from and uses more spices in its mixture.

Sausage Rolls

1 1/2 lbs. good quality pork sausage
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 eggs, beaten

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the sausage, basil, oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste until all the seasonings are well distributed throughout.2
    2. Roll out all the puff pastry into one large rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Put the wide side of the rectangle to your left. Form the sausage meat into a log about 1 inch thick and long enough to fit the width of the pastry. Lay this log along the whole edge. Roll the pastry around the sausage, brush with beaten eggs at the join, and cut so that the pastry has just enough room to slightly overlap. Repeat the process with the remaining sausage meat and pastry. Line up all the sausage rolls making sure the seam on each is at the bottom and not showing. Brush the tops with the eggs and cut the sausage rolls into either 1 1/2-or 3-inch logs.3
    3. Spread about one inch apart on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and the meat is cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes. You can also freeze the rolls to be cooked later. Serve warm or cold.
  1. Reprinted with permission from Eating Royally by Darren McGrady, (C) © 2007 Thomas Nelson Inc.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 14 - Mexican Meat Mix and Chimichangas

Any missionary who has served in Mount Airy has been served Chimichangas at least once.  It's a favorite recipe of many of them and I've been asked for the recipe many times over the years.  The Mexican Meat Mix recipe came from the Make-a-Mix Cookbook, which sadly is no longer in print.  I don't put as much salt as they call for in their recipe, but otherwise it's mostly the same. Just know that amounts in this recipe are pretty fluid.  Sometimes I'll have 5 lbs of roasts, sometimes up to 7 lbs.  I just add things as needed to make it look and taste right.

Mexican Meat Mix
Makes about 9 cups of mix that can be used for Chimichangas, Enchiladas, Tacos or Burritos.  We even like it on salad.

5 lbs. beef roasts or a combination of beef and pork roasts, which is what I use.
3 Tbsp.vegetable shortening
3 onions, chopped
1 4-oz. can chopped green Ortega chilies
2 7-oz. jars mild salsa (the recipe really calls for green chili salsa, but I like the flavor of the mild red kind better)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (this varies, sometimes I add a lot, or a couple of cloves of minced garlic)
4 Tbsp flour
2 or 3 tsp salt (the recipe calls for 4 tsp, but that's too much)
1 tsp ground cumin
juice from the roasts

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Place roasts in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven.  Do not add salt or water.  Cover with a tight lid and roast about 12 hours, until well done.  You can also cook the meat in a pressure cooker with 1 cup water for 35-40 minutes, but it doesn't get the great flavors.  Drain meats, retaining the juice.  Cool meat, then remove bones and fat.  Shred meat and set aside.  Melt shortening in a large skillet (I just usually use corn oil), add onions and green chilies, and garlic if using fresh.  Sauté one minute.  Add salsa, garlic powder, flour, salt and cumin.  Cook one minute over medium low heat.  Stir in reserved meat juices and shredded meat.  Cook 5 minutes until thickened.  Cool.  Put about 3 cups of mix each into 3 1-qt. freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top.  Seal and label containers.  Freeze.  Use within 6 months.  I am usually making so many of these at one time that I don't have any mix to freeze.

From the Make-a-Mix Cookbook
Makes 6 chimichangas

6 large flour tortillas
3 cups Mexican Meat Mix, thawed
Vegetable oil for frying
shredded lettuce
1 7 oz. jar of green chili salsa or mild red salsa
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup guacamole
1/2 pint sour cream

Warm the tortillas in a low oven for about 5 minutes (or microwave for about 30 seconds).  Heat the Mexican Meat Mix in a small saucepan or skillet if not using immediately after making.  Heat 1-inch deep oil in Dutch oven or deep skillet, deep fryers work well, too.  Lay a tortilla down and spread about 1/2 cup of meat mix down the center of the tortilla.  Fold up the bottom edge over the filling.  Do the same with the top edge.  Fold the left edge across the meat mix, then roll toward the other side and secure with a toothpick.  Fry in hot oil about 2 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve hot over shredded lettuce and top with salsa, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 12 and 13 - Cornish Pasties

Weird.  I didn't realize until just now that I'd never posted anything yesterday.  I'd given Bob my cookbook so he could make rolls for our Christmas party yesterday (and yes, that man can cook!) :) and never took it back, so it didn't even occur to me that I'd missed it.

So... I wanted to post something good for the weekend days.  Cornish Pasties are one of my favorite things from when we lived in England.  For those of you who have never been to England, these are not pronounced PASTRIES.  You say it like Fast, or Nasty, I suppose.  Pasty.  Not like made of paste, either.  That's a completely different thing!

Pasties are meat pies with a shortcrust pastry on the outside and they are filled with all kinds of yummy fillings and you hold them in your hand while you eat them.  My favorite is the actual Cornish type with potato, onion and steak, so that's what I'm posting here, but you can fill them with most anything savory.

Originally, pasties were from Cornwall in southern England.  The miners would take them for their lunches and they had a savory filling in one side and a sweet filling in the other side.  The edges were crimped with a rolled edge and since the miners had arsenic on their hands from the mine, they would hold this edge while they ate the pie, then they would throw out the edge for the ghosts (or knockers) that they believed were in the mines.

If you're lucky enough to live in parts of Arizona or in Las Vegas, Nevada, you can even go to the Cornish Pasty Company here in the states.  There are probably others, but that's the one I know about. Enjoy! (And watch out for the knockers! )

Cornish Pasties

Shortcrust pastry:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp solid shortening
3 Tbsp cold water

1 cup (8 oz.) finely sliced potato (sometimes I cut it into small cubes but that's not traditional)
1 cup (8 oz.) finely sliced onion and/or turnip
1 cup (8 oz.) sliced or cubed beef steak or chuck roast
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten

Blend flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the mixture is the size of small peas.  Gradually sprinkle water over the mixture, blending well with a fork.  Roll pastry into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill for one hour.  Roll out the pastry and divide it into two large or four small rounds.  Pile sliced veggies on one half of each pastry, but leave an open edge all the way around. Top with small pieces of beef.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place a few potato pieces on top of the beef to keep it from drying out.  Dampen the edges of the pastry with water and fold the open side over the side with the filling, to make a half-circle.  Crimp the edges of the pastry, like a pie crust, or even pressing down with a fork, although that's not the traditional way.  Make a small slit in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape and brush the tops and edges with beaten egg.  Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Then reduce heat and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes more.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 11 - Beef Stroganoff

At one point or another, my three oldest sons have been living away from home and have called for the recipe for Beef Stroganoff.  I have always used the old, red Betty Crocker Cookbook recipe but (of course) with changes.  LOL  I didn't really realize how often I change recipes to suit myself until I started writing this!

So, this is my version of Beef Stroganoff via Betty Crocker.

Beef Stroganoff 
Serves 6, supposedly

1 1/2 lbs. beef for stew, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove of garlic, minced or equivalent from a jar or dried
1 1/2 cups beef broth or bouillon dissolved in water
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1 med. onion, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced, if desired
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup sour cream
3-4 cups hot, buttered egg noodles
1 Tbsp butter

Cut up the beef.  It's easiest to cut if it's partially frozen.  Heat dutch oven or large, deep skillet on medium heat and add 2 Tbsp butter.  Stir beef in butter until browned on all sides.  It works best if you cook a small amount at a time, then remove it from the pan, then add it all back in when it's all browned.  Reserve 1/3 cup of the bouillon.  Stir the remaining bouillon, ketchup, garlic and salt into the skillet.  Heat to boiling then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until beef is tender, usually about an hour.

Stir in onions and mushrooms, if desired. Whisk 3 Tbsp flour into the reserved bouillon and gradually add it to the beef mixture.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute on reduced heat.  Stir in sour cream.  Heat through.

Cook noodles per package directions and drain. Toss with 1 Tbsp of butter.

Serve stroganoff over hot, buttered noodles.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 10 - Potatoes Romanoff & Twice Baked Potatoes

My birthday is in the summer and my mom's birthday is four days later, so every year on my birthday my grandparents would have a BBQ in their "BBQ Room" which was in their backyard.  Our family would be there and usually my Uncle Earle and Aunt Gerda would be there, too.  We would have brisket or beefalo steaks, a big fruit salad inside of a watermelon, served with YumYum Sauce (which is vanilla pudding and Cool Whip), plus we would have Potatoes Romanoff.  We would always finish off with my special birthday cake, Angel Food with a tunnel carved out of the middle and filled with strawberries and Cool Whip.

Many years later on, when my sister Sandy had gotten married, she had us all over to her apartment for dinner and she made Twice Baked Potatoes. They were wonderful!  Then to my surprise, I realized that they were pretty much just Potatoes Romanoff in potato skins, with bacon.  No wonder I loved them!  Twice Baked Potatoes are probably the recipe most requested by missionaries who come to dinner.  Not the recipe itself, just that we have them for dinner.  It's also our son Mark's favorite food.   I hope you enjoy them as well as we do.

Potatoes Romanoff 
Recipe from Varee Bland, my grandma, who got it from her friend Betty Dyke.

6 medium potatoes (about 2 lbs.), fork tender, baked in jackets
Shred them in a large bowl with the cheese shredder (wear protective clothing, this is messy)

1 pt. dairy sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a greased 9x13 pan or large casserole dish.  Top with additional grated cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Twice Baked Potatoes 
Recipe from Sandy Bland Harms

Same ingredients as above but also add :
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 Tbsp butter, if desired (I generally leave it out)

Bake potatoes in their skins until fork tender. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out most of the flesh inside into a large bowl, leaving the skins intact.  Place the skins on a cookie sheet.  Combine potato with sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions, salt, pepper and bacon.  Add more sour cream if not moist enough.  Add butter to make it more creamy, if desired.  Fill potato skins with filling, each should be heaped up a little bit.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned on top and cheese is melted.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 9 - Potato Salad and life lessons. :)

To finish up Salads, I guess I should probably add Potato Salad, the way the Blands make it.  LOL  The Stull family peels their potatoes and cuts them into cubes first, but I think it's a little mushy that way.  I like my potatoes to have a shape in potato salad, but not be too hard.  Bob likes them the mushy way and I like them not mushy - it's a fine line and means that we each need to compromise sometimes.  I switch back and forth on how I've made it, to accommodate each of us.  I've even gone so far as to cook half of the potatoes whole with skins on, like I like it, and half of them peeled and cut up, like Bob likes it.  LOL  The things you do to make a happy marriage!

It's sort of like when we got married, I liked Crunchy Skippy peanut butter and Bob liked Smooth Jif. We bought small jars of each.  I realized I liked Smooth Jif and Bob decided he liked Crunchy Jif instead.  So now we buy two kinds of Jif.  Ha!  Hey, if you can keep a marriage happy by buying two kinds of peanut butter, that seems like a win to me.

So, here's the Potato Salad recipe basically as I wrote it in our family cookbook.  But remember, potato salad is a personal choice and make it however you like it.  Some of the amounts change with the day, some change with how I'm feeling that day, or whose birthday it is, or whatever.  Experiment and make your potato salad how you like it!  And PLEASE, if you're taking it to a picnic, serve it chilled, on ice, or keep it in the cooler.  My pet peeve is salad with mayonnaise, sitting out in the sun waiting to poison everyone!!  

Potato Salad - the way the Blands make it.

4 baking potatoes, cooked whole in boiling water, until fork tender (if you score the skin around the middle of the potato with a knife before boiling, the skins just about slip off after they are boiled)
4 eggs, hard boiled (low boil for 12 minutes)
1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp mustard
8 sweet gherkin pickles
a little pickle juice
2 tsp salt

After potatoes are boiled, take out of the water and allow to cool a bit until you can handle them.  Slip off the skins and cut potatoes into approx 1/2 inch cubes.  Place potato in a large bowl.  Peel eggs and cut up.  I like them in slices, Bob likes them cubed.  Experiment and decide what your own favorite is.  Add mayonnaise until creamy.  This will vary depending upon the type of potatoes, how you cooked them, the weather... who knows.  I use two really large heaping spoonfuls and adjust from there.  Add a heaping teaspoon - or two big squirts - of mustard.  (I'm really technical about my recipes, as you can see.)  Cut up several small sweet pickles.  I cut them in half, then in slices, but do what makes you happy.  Six or eight ought to do it.  Pour in a little of the pickle juice - a teaspoon or two maybe?  Add salt until it tastes right.  I always have to add more, so I'm guessing 2 tsp.  Add pepper if you like it.  I do.  Chill in the refrigerator.

There you go, potato salad and life lessons.  Be happy and compromise when needed.  :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 8 - Orange Almond Salad

OK, on to Salads...

When I lived in California, there was a restaurant near us called The Magic Pan.  It was a creperie and I really loved going there for Orange Almond Salad and Coquilles St. Jacques crepes, which have shrimp and scallops in a béchamel sauce.  It was my favorite thing on the menu.  When we moved away, I taught myself how to make both of those items.  I learned how to make crepes and the béchamel sauce in an International Cooking class in college, but the Orange Almond Salad wasn't quite right because I couldn't get the dressing right.  Then I found a cookbook called The Make-A-Mix Cookbook that had a salad dressing mix that was perfect!!  That's where the dressing here came from.

Orange Almond Salad 

1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 can mandarine oranges, drained
1 pkg. sliced almonds
Sweet Salad Dressing, below

Turn on broiler in the oven.  Put sliced almonds on a cookie sheet. Set cookie sheet a couple of inches below heat in the oven and toast almonds.  Watch carefully because it won't take long.  Shake the pan a couple of times to keep them from burning and sticking.

Put romaine lettuce in a bowl, top with mandarin oranges and almonds, serve with dressing.

Sweet Salad Dressing
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. instant minced onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp paprika
(their recipe calls for 1 tsp celery seed, but I don't like it.)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mixing until well blended.  Put mixture in foil packet or 1 pint glass jar.  Label.  Store in a cool, dry place.  Use within 6 months.  Makes about 1/2 cup of mix.  (I generally make three or four packets at a time to save time.

To make the dressing, use
1 recipe of the Sweet Salad Dressing
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar

Combine in a glass jar and shake.  Chill before serving.  Makes about 1 1/4 cups dressing.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 7 - Refrigerator Pan Rolls

I really treasure the recipes that I get from family members because we've rarely lived near our family members and spend most holidays just with ourselves and whomever we've invited to join us. When we first got married, we were living in Missouri and got to spend the holidays with the Stull clan.  Kathy Stull is Ralph's wife, who is Bob's cousin.  She made the best rolls for Thanksgiving and we've used her recipe pretty much every year since then.  I generally try another recipe, too, just to see if I can find another one I like, too, but we always come back to this one.  Bob made them this year for Thanksgiving and I'm making them this weekend for our church Christmas party.  I'm sure we'll make them for Christmas, too.

Refrigerator Pan Rolls

Boil and cool to lukewarm:
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 Tbsp salt

Dissolve four packages of yeast in 2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees.)  This is in addition to the hot water shown above, just in case you wonder.  Beat 2 eggs and add to the yeast.  Add all to the cooled mixture above.  Add 5 cups flour - stir until smooth.  Add 5 more cups of flour, stir to make a soft dough.  Turn onto floured board and knead.  Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.  Pinch off pieces with buttered hands, knead and roll into little balls.  Put on buttered pan and turn to butter the tops.  You can let them rise a second time to make them lighter - we usually do even though the recipe doesn't call for it.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 48 rolls.
This dough will store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - Day 6 - Colonial Oatmeal Bread

I haven't made this one in quite a while, but it's one of my favorite bread recipes.  I can't even remember where I got the recipe!  I started making this when we lived in Florida and I liked it because it wasn't baked in a loaf pan, but on a cookie sheet in an oval.  I'll post our Thanksgiving and Christmas roll recipe tomorrow.

1 Tbsp salt
2 pkgs active dry yeast
4 cups whole wheat flour
About 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (more or less, depending upon the weather)
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter or margarine (butter is much better, in my opinion)
1 egg
1 cup quick-cooking oats, uncooked

In a large bowl, combine salt, yeast, 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour.

In a 2 quart saucepan, over low heat, heat water, honey and butter or margarine until very warm (120 to 130 degrees.) Butter does not need to melt completely.  With mixer at low speed, gradually beat liquid into dry ingredients just until blended.  Increase speed to medium, beat 2 minutes occasionally scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Gradually beat in egg and 1 cup WW flour to make a thick batter.  Continue beating 2 minutes, scraping bowl often.  With a wooden spoon, stir in oats, 1 cup of WW flour and 1 cup of AP flour to make a soft dough.

Lightly sprinkle work surface with AP flour.  Turn dough onto the surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Working in more AP flour (about 3/4 cup) while kneading.  Shape the dough into a gal and place in a large greased bowl, turning dough over so that the top is greased.  Cover and let rise in a warm place away from draft, until doubled - about an hour.  Dough is doubled when two fingers pressed lightly into the dough leave a dent.

Punch down the dough.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, cover with the bowl or a cloth and let rest 15 minutes for easier shaping.  Grease a large cookie sheet.  Cut dough in half.  Shape each half into a 7x4 inch oval, tapering ends slightly and place them on the cookie sheet, not touching.  Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With a knife, cut 3 to 5 criss-cross slashes across the tops of the loaves. Lightly dust tops of loaves with some AP flour.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes until loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped with finger.  Remove loaves from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Makes two 1 3/4 lb. loaves.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - December 4th and 5th - Appetizers

Oh dear!  I spent the whole day at the Temple yesterday and then went to bed at 9 pm, thinking I would just take a nap and then get up, but it didn't work that way.  So, today, I'm going to post two Appetizer recipes.

The first one is Crab Meat Rangoons.  We got this recipe from Bob's brother Ken Stull when he returned from his mission in the Philippines.  It's easy and delicious and these disappear as fast as we can make them.

1/4 lb. crab meat or large can of fancy crab meat
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 green onion, chopped
1 pkg wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten (water works too, but not as well)
oil for deep frying

Mix the crab, cream cheese and the green onion by hand - don't use a mixer.  Place a tablespoonful of the mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper.  Wet the edges of the wrapper with the beaten egg and fold in half, pressing down on the edges to seal.  Deep fry in the heated oil until a light brown.

That's it! Super simple and super delicious.

The second one is Scotch Eggs.  Another fried one, sorry. I remember my Dad making these for us when we were younger.  I kept thinking it was after he went to Scotland, but I never actually saw these in Scotland and I think it was just from a cooking class he and my mom took.  I never saw them again until I went to the Renaissance Festival here in Maryland, where they sell them at one of the stalls.  The key to keeping the sausage on the egg is to dry the egg with a paper towel prior to wrapping it.  It's a problem! I have been highly frustrated many times by trying to keep the sausage layer from falling off.  LOL This recipe only makes 4 and you'll definitely need more than that, so just multiply it as many times as you need.

1/2 lb. of bulk pork sausage, like Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean's
4 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
seasoned flour (flour, salt, pepper and anything else you want to add. Paprika works well, so does a little sage.
1 large egg, beaten
Bread crumbs in a wide bowl
Oil for deep frying

Divide the sausage into 4 equal portions.  On a floured board, roll each portion into a circle.  Peel and dry the hard boiled eggs.  Roll the peeled, hard boiled eggs in the seasoned flour, just lightly.  Place an egg on each circle of sausage and wrap the sausage around the egg, covering it completely.  Dip it into the beaten egg, then roll in the bread crumbs until coated.  Repeat if desired for a more crunchy coating.  Deep fry in 350 degree hot oil for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.  Drain well on paper towels.  Serve either hot or cold.

So, there you go... a couple of non-diet appetizers for today.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - December 3rd - Black Hills Golden Egg Bake

Eeek!  Three days in and I almost forgot to do this! LOL  Having a great time working on my daughter-in-law's genealogy today and getting ready to spend tomorrow at the Temple for our Temple Jubilee day, plus with teaching and planning for Seminary and helping with Tommy's Cub Scout outing, my mind was elsewhere.

I decided to stick with breakfast for today.  Mainly because of this quote from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne:
" 'When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,' said Piglet at last, 'what's the first thing you say to yourself?'
" 'What's for breakfast?' said Pooh. 'What do you say, Piglet?'
" 'I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?' said Piglet. 
"Pooh nodded thoughtfully. 'It's the same thing,' he said." 

The other breakfast recipe that is requested a lot is one that I found online a few years ago on Taste of Home.  It's called Black Hills Golden Egg Bake.  I don't make it exactly like the recipe, as normal, but it's really yummy just as the author posted it. It is one of our typical Christmas morning recipes along with Aebelskiver. I've never had anyone say that they disliked it. Here's the link:

Black Hills Golden Egg Bake
1/2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 c. butter, cubed
10 eggs
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt, optional
2 c. (16 oz.) 4% cottage cheese
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
(I just use the shredded Mexican blend instead of these two and like it better.)
1/2 lb. bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 can (2 1/4 oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained (seriously, my family would disown me if I put olives in anything, so these are never, ever added.)

Grease a 9x13 pan with butter and set aside. In a small skillet, sauté the mushrooms and peppers in butter until tender.  I've also thrown in Thrive Foods reconstituted freeze-dried spinach and other peppers and they're also good.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, flour, baking powder and salt.  Blend together then add mushroom mixture.  Add remaining ingredients and pour into greased pan.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 25-35 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serves 10-12 servings.

I heard of someone lining the baking pan with crescent rolls and then pouring in the ingredients to make a flaky crust, but I haven't tried that yet.   If it worked, it would be very much like Panera's soufflés. I suppose you could also make these into individual servings pretty easily by pouring into cupcake or tart tins.


According to Taste of Home, this was originally published as Black Hills Golden Egg Bake in Country Extra March 1999, p51

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - December 2, 2015 - Aebelskiver

Recipe Advent Calendar - December 2, 2015  Aebelskiver

When we were growing up in Santa Clara, California, we would often drive down to see our maternal Grandma and all of our cousins in Southern California.  We would always stop on the way in Solvang, a Danish community near Santa Barbara.  At that time, it was just a small town with some wonderful shops and fantastic bakeries and restaurants.  Now it has a Convention Center and has grown quite a lot.  First stop was generally one of the bakeries, either Danish Mill or Petersen's, to get butter cookies and Sarah Bernhardts and pastries for my Dad. Then we would visit the needlework shops and I always had to visit the Equine Art store.  Then we would stop to eat at one of the little restaurants with a Smorgasbord and have frikadeller, which are meatballs, with gravy and mashed potatoes and Rod Kaal (red cabbage); or little open faced sandwiches with all kinds of meats, cheeses and toppings.  But my favorite thing was Aebelskiver.  They are little round pancake balls served with jam and powdered sugar.  You need a special Monk Ball/Aebelskiver pan to make them properly, but my mother has been known to just cook the batter on a skillet and make what she calls Flatabels.  LOL

Aebelskiver are our special breakfast for birthdays and holidays or when family comes to visit.  Matt and I demonstrated how to make them for two of his school classes.  We've made them for friends and family, for missionaries and neighbors, for Seminary students and who knows who else.  There have been several times when I've made more than 100 at a time when we've had guests.  They aren't difficult once you've got the hang of turning them.  The restaurants usually use a knitting needle, but I just use a fork and keep paper towels handy to keep it clean.

I hope you have an opportunity to make Aebelskiver one day.  It's definitely one of my most requested recipes.  If you can't make them, then please come by sometime and I'll make them for you!

Aebelskiver from the Danish Cook Book from Solvang
I double this recipe for our family holiday breakfasts and rarely have leftovers

2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 eggs, divided
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp melted butter
(I also add about 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg to mine)
Canola or Corn oil for cooking
Strawberry or Lingonberry jam for topping
Powdered sugar in a sifter

Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites in a mixer (preferably with a whip attachment) until stiff (or wait until the batter has set for a while, then whip them.)  Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Allow batter to set for 30 minutes to let the baking powder work. Gently fold in egg whites until all combined.

Put Aebelskiver pan on medium heat and let it get completely heated through - I usually let it heat at least five minutes before adding oil.  Fill the center hole of the pan about 3/4 full of oil or just add a Tablespoon of oil to each cup.  (I find it much less messy to fill just the center cup, then add batter to it, which causes oil to go into each of the other cups.  The center cup takes the longest to cook, too, so this gives that one a little extra time to cook.)

Put a couple of tablespoonfuls of batter into each hole in the pan.  If you've filled the middle one with oil, start with that one, allowing oil to flow into each of the other cups.  Make sure there is oil in each of the cups.  The batter should almost come to the top of the cup.  Let it cook until the edges start to get bubbly, then using a knitting needle or fork, poke the top edge and quickly lift and turn the cooked aebelskiver about a 1/4 turn.  If it flips all the way over, that's fine, too.  Continue turning the aebelskiver until a skewer or knitting needle comes out clean and it's nicely browned all over.  Watch the heat on the pan and adjust as needed to keep them from getting burnt.

Serve several with jam and powdered sugar on top.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Recipe Advent Calendar - December 1st - Scotch Broth

Yesterday, I had an interesting experience.  I was at the grocery store buying some veggies and especially a turnip, rutabaga and parsnip to put into Scotch Broth.  The young man who was running the register looked at the rutabaga and hesitatingly asked if it was a rutabaga.  When I said yes, that it was, the lady behind me asked him why he would guess something so odd and then asked me what to do with them.  I explained that I was making Scotch Broth, a soup that I loved from when we lived in England.  Then I gave the woman my business card and said that I would be happy to send her the recipe if she would email me.  Then the young man at the register asked for my card also and said that he had friends who would enjoy the recipe, too.  I was happy to do that! :)

It made me realize how often I am asked for recipes.  It's quite often!  So, in the spirit of giving for Christmas, I decided that it would be fun to do a recipe Advent Calendar and post the recipes that I'm asked for most often.

Since Scotch Broth is one of those, it makes sense to start with that one.  So, here you go!  Enjoy!

Scotch Broth - based on a recipe from Silver Dollar City's Olde Country Recipes, but changed a bit.
Preparation time: 30-45 minutes, depending upon how fast you chop veggies!
Cooking time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  (Or all day in a crock pot)
4 large servings or 6 smaller ones

1 1/2 lbs. boneless lamb shoulder or leg, fat removed and cut into small cubes.
6 cups water
3/4 cup barley
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 med. onions, chopped
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1/2 - 3/4 of a med sized rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced (go for a smaller to medium one)
top with snipped parsley, if desired, but I usually leave it off.

Trim fat from lamb and cut into small cubes.  In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, place 6 cups of water, salt, pepper, lamb and barley and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Add vegetables to soup.  Cover and simmer until lamb and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. This would also work well in a crock pot on low for several hours.  Skim fat if necessary.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve with warm french bread or rolls.